Hosted video service provider NW Systems has designed and developed an 18-camera system for Durham County Council to help them monitor and manage city centre traffic congestion.
The council’s Traffic Signals and Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) team commissioned NW Systems to develop an HD quality camera system to provide real-time views over potential congestion hot spots associated with major repairs on Millburngate Bridge. This bridge crosses the River Wear close to the city’s historic centre and handles approximately 48,000 vehicles each day.
During the period of the bridge repairs, traffic was restricted to one lane each way, potentially causing major congestion if not managed carefully. A combination of early warnings to motorists in case of traffic congestion and a highly proactive public information campaign proved to be the answer to keep the traffic moving.
Malcolm Sinclair, team leader, Traffic Control & UTMC, Durham County Council, explained: “For the live camera system to be effective, road users needed to be able to quickly load and view live views via our website – using this information to plan their journeys to avoid the worst of the traffic.”
The new traffic cameras proved their worth very quickly: traffic volumes in rush-hours fell nearly 25% below normal levels for that time of year and the council’s traffic camera web pages became the most popular pages on its site, drawing an average of 30,873 page views per week throughout the seven-week period of bridge repairs.
It has not stopped there. Following the council’s decision to continue using the live cameras to provide views of roadworks associated with new traffic signalisation projects at Gilesgate and Leazes Bowl roundabouts, Durham’s traffic cams remain the number one search topic for visitors to the council’s website.
Sinclair added: “Live traffic cameras here in Durham have proved vital in helping us manage traffic flows when the city’s road system is under stress. They stimulate motorists travelling at peak times to seek alternative modes of transport, change their routes or set off earlier to avoid delays. They’ve also helped reduce the workload on our help desks which otherwise have to gear up to handle much higher volumes of enquiries and complaints during major roadworks. ”
Frank Crouwel, managing director of NW Systems, said: “Our experience in running managed and hosted video services, for a number of construction and property development companies over recent years, gave us the wherewithal and technology know-how to offer Durham County Council a shrink-wrapped, mobile live traffic monitoring service which is highly cost effective. It gives them the flexibility to move cameras to new areas of potential congestion, while only paying running costs when the traffic cameras are needed.”